City Council today approved a plan to acquire more than eight miles of fiber optic cables in support of Chicago’s broadband infrastructure expansion efforts.
The ordinance authorizes a transaction between the City of Chicago and Lisle, Illinois-based telecommunications network operator ExteNet Systems, Inc. to enable the City to acquire 42,000 feet of fiber optic cables, furthering the Mayor’s Broadband Challenge initiative, which aims to expand access to high-speed internet in targeted commercial corridors, underserved neighborhoods, parks and public spaces.
“I am committed to making Chicago the most connected city in the world, and expanding our fiber optic cable infrastructure is critical to achieving this goal,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This agreement with ExteNet will provide the City with more miles of fiber to improve high-speed access across Chicago. In conjunction with our ongoing efforts to provide free wireless in parks and our other work in the broadband space, this is a critical advancement in modernizing our economic infrastructure.”
The ordinance will authorize a transaction between the City and ExteNet for the City to acquire 42,400 feet of fiber optic cables in lieu of $1.3 million in right-of-way fees over the next 15 years. ExteNet will fund the installation of the City-owned fiber as it installs its own fiber optic network. The Broadband Challenge, which the Mayor originally announced in September 2012, seeks to create a gigabit-speed fiber network in targeted commercial and industrial corridors, establish free wireless service in parks and public spaces, and increase accessibility and affordability of internet service in underserved areas across the city.
To support these efforts, the City will leverage assets including existing City-owned fiber; right-ofway access to freight tunnels and sewers; coordination with planned City construction work to modernize water and sewer infrastructure; and other forms of investment.
This acquired fiber will be used for the City’s own needs, such as providing network connectivity to City buildings in close proximity to the ExteNet-installed fiber. In some cases this will results in cost savings through the cancellation of existing telecommunications services.